Notes from Rivalz Bar & Grill

Walking into Rivalz Bar & Grill, the stark contrast of the 1950s style black and white checkered floor catches the eye. Signs and T-shirts cover the gray plaster walls. There are shirts for college sports teams, for the Marines, even shirt that have the University of Oregon’s big “O” with “BAMA” underneath. There are cheerleader shirts with miniskirts and pompoms pinned to the wall below them.

Rivalz Bar & Grill

You can hear the sizzling grill behind the door-less opening the cash counter stands in front of. Sounds of speech come from a table of customers, until it gives way to the crying baby and then a middle-aged woman with shoulder-length red hair in a ponytail cooing at it. The conversation picks back up. The volume of the country music drowns out the sizzling, which is drowned out in turn as the baby starts crying in earnest. A TV plays Entertainment Tonight too quietly to hear.

The establishment has a clean smell. The air smells cool in here, lacking the hot odor outside in the 95 degree heat. The cool air feels pleasant on the skin, in contrast to the palpable burning sensation outside.

A blonde young woman in a tight shirt, boyfriend jeans and flip-flops seats two patrons. She cleans the table by spraying a cleaning solution and wiping it down. The plastic cover of the table, cool to the touch, covers the paper menus glued to the wooden surface.

A middle-aged woman with medium-length brown hair comes to take your order. She’s wearing a black apron, black tank top, jeans and flip-flops. The two patrons order.

A light beer arrives. It has a thin taste of hops complimented by a hint of lime, since there’s a lime in it.

The waitress brings a hamburger and chicken strips, both with fries, to the table.

Now the red-haired woman rises from the table, chasing a toddler. She wears a teal tank top, long black skirt, and the cheap sandals that seem obligatory for women in this heat. The little boy has brown hair, a baby blue shirt, and plaid shorts on.

Toddler screeches chairs by pulling them. A woman with short brown hair, glasses, a Hawaiian shirt, black culottes, and the obligatory sandals follows him and picks him up.

The waitress asks two patrons if they’re nursing their beers or want more. They say they’re nursing. The waitress tells them that they just missed a water fight between the customers sitting out front in the heat.

The party with the infant and toddler leave. “Happy Birthday, crazy lady.” the one in the teal tank top says to the young woman. The waitress reveals to a pair of patrons that this is a family business. The family’s conversation wafting from the kitchen now competes with the TV. The radio is off now.

“Pain is weakness leaving the body” declares a gray Marine T-shirt on the wall. Satisfaction is customers leaving Rivalz.

About michaelwallen

I am a junior at the University of Oregon, majoring in journalism.
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